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3/25/2010
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Feds Focus On Cybersecurity Monitoring, Reporting

As the House introduces a cybersecurity overhaul bill, federal CIO Vivek Kundra broadly outlines new reporting requirements for federal agencies.

Congress and the White House both appear committed to overhauling the way federal agencies go about securing their IT systems, as the White House Wednesday outlined a new approach to ensuring cybersecurity compliance and a Member of Congress introduced a bill to overhaul government cybersecurity efforts.

The new bill, which draws on ideas found in major government and industry reports on the state of federal cybersecurity and contains many elements similar to the a Senate bill reported out of committee Wednesday, would create a new National Office for Cyberspae and revise numerous federal information security requirements.

The Federal Information Security Amendments Act of 2010, introduced by Rep. Diane Watson, (D-Calif.), would, like its Senate counterpart, create a formal cybersecurity leadership office and post within the White House. The top position would be appointed by the President and be subject to Senate confirmation.

The bill would also create a Federal Cybersecurity Practice Board, comprised of cybersecurity leadership from across government, that would be charged with developing compliance guidelines including minimum security controls, cybersecurity performance metrics, and required security criteria for federal information systems.

Under the bill, agencies would be required to continuously monitor their networks for compliance, deficiencies, and potential vulnerabilities, conduct regular testing and systems evaluation, undergo vulnerability probes by third party "red teams," and obtain audits of their cybersecurity efforts.

Furthermore, IT contractors would also be pulled into the orbit of FISMA audits, and the government would have to create standard policies to ensure secure acquisition of IT products and services in order to mitigate supply chain risks and check major systems for vulnerabilities before deployment.

Under the new Office of Management and Budget plan, federal agencies's reporting processes for cybersecurity compliance will see some significant changes this year, federal CIO Vivek Kundra announced at a House of Representatives oversight and government reform committee hearing Wednesday.

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